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Bogotá Hires Actors to Teach People Public Transit Manners

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Well-trafficked public transit networks are powder kegs of social interaction between irate commuters crushed together in close quarters. So it’s no surprise that cities shell out money to remind straphangers to be polite and follow the rules that keep public transportation running smoothly, like exiting buses from the back doors and giving up seats to older and pregnant passengers. New York City’s MTA, for instance, spent more than $76,000 this year to remind passengers to stop dancing on subway poles and to refrain from manspreading

In Bogotá, however, transportation etiquette lessons come not from signs and impersonal overhead announcements, but from actors. In January, the Colombian capital hired three acting troupes to encourage proper transit behavior and shame unruly passengers. 

The city’s public transportation network has been ranked the worst in the world for women, and an estimated 70,000 bus riders a day skip out on paying their fares. The actors, planted within the crowd of everyday commuters, stare down passengers who rush onto buses without waiting for people to exit. They enact skits where one actor holding a baby doll is forced to stand when no one is willing to give up their seat, and the doll falls out of the pretend mother’s hands. They hold loud phone conversations about the dangers of fare evasion, describing fictitious scenarios like how a fare-skipper got hit by a bus.

The plan is kind of genius: People don't always behave as they should on public transit, and a paid actor in the crowd is more likely to speak up (or at least glare) at someone who's flouting the rules of public transportation decorum by hogging seats or standing in front of the doors as people try to enter and exit. 

Unfortunately, there’s no real data showing that the actors are improving bus behavior, and some critics object to the use of city funding for such transit tomfoolery, so the program may not last beyond the next election. But for now, Bogotanos will get the occasional spark of whimsy with their reminder to give up their seats to those who need them. 

[h/t: The Economist]

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MegaSecur, YouTube
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Design
The Self-Deploying Flood Barrier That Could Keep Cities Dry Without Sandbags
MegaSecur, YouTube
MegaSecur, YouTube

For many places in the world, the future is going to be wet. Climate change is already intensifying heavy rains and flooding in parts of the U.S., and it’s only expected to get worse. A recent study estimated that by 2050, more than 60 million people in the U.S. would be vulnerable to 100-year floods.

Some cities plan to meet rising waters with protective parkland, while some architects are developing floating houses. And one company has figured out how to replace piles of sandbags as emergency flood control, as Business Insider reports. Water-Gate, a line of flood protection products made by a Canadian company called MegaSecur, is a self-deploying water barrier that can be used to stop overflowing water in its tracks.

The emergency dam is made of folded canvas that, when water rushes into it, inflates up to become a kind of pocket for the water to get trapped in. You can roll it out across a street, a canal, or a creek like a giant hose, then wait for the water to arrive. In the event of a flash flood, you can even deploy it while the flood is already in progress. It can stop waters that rise up to five feet.

According to MegaSecur, one Water-Gate dam can replace thousands of sandbags, and once the floodwaters have receded, you can fold it back up and use it again. Sadly, based on the flood projections of climate change scientists, heavy flooding will soon become more and more common, and that will make reusable flood barriers necessary, saving time and money that would otherwise be spent buying, stacking, and getting rid of sandbags. The auto-deployment also means that it can be used by a single person, rather than a team of laborers. It could just as easily be set up outside a house by a homeowner as it could be set up on a city street by an emergency worker.

As climate change-related proposals go, it sounds a little more feasible than a floating house.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Coord
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Could Color-Coded Maps Be the Answer to City Parking Problems?
Coord
Coord

Driving in a city isn't as simple as traveling from Point A to Point B. For many motorists, it's interpreting the parking signs, scoping out curb space, and avoiding tickets once they've already reached their destination that are the challenges. A new website aims to make the urban parking process a little easier to navigate: As City Lab reports, the new Curb Explorer tool from Coord uses a handy color-coded system to map out which San Francisco curbs are fair game for drivers and which are off limits.

You can navigate Coord's San Francisco street map like you would any other digital map. But instead of just a starting point and destination, Coord asks for more information about your parking needs, such as the day and time you plan to be arriving, the type of vehicle you're driving, and its uses. Based on those variables, the map highlights curbs in different colors that signify their parking availability. Red means no parking allowed, light blue indicates free parking, and dark blue means paid parking. Whether you're looking to park some place all day or for just a few minutes, you can input that information in the system and the map will update itself accordingly.

The new tool isn't just for private car owners: It's also for the employees of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, who received over 75 percent of the lane-obstruction tickets issued by San Francisco police between April and June of 2017. Since November 2017, the city has rolled out dedicated pick-up and drop-off zones for such vehicles and now Coord makes it easy for drivers to find them.

Coord has a map for only one city at the moment, and even drivers in San Francisco may find it difficult to use. It's not an app; rather, it's a website that can be accessed through mobile, and the focus is just on parking rules rather than finding you a space. But if the technology is successful it may eventually work its way into other cities and even into established navigation apps.

Color-coded city map.
Coord

Color-coded city map.
Coord

[h/t City Lab]

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